Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On avoiding the occasion of the sin of anger; why I won't respond to comments by evangelical atheists

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."  First letter of James, 1:19-20
"Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools." Eccl 7:9

 As a cranky old physicist, one of my many great failings--both moral and intellectual--is the inability to suffer fools gladly.    I gave up a spot as moderator for the Magis Facebook page (and left Facebook) and stopped visiting Catholic Answers Forum because I would become stressed and angry by the irrational, illogical assertions of the evangelical atheists trolling these sites for "fresh meat" (as one atheism website put it).   Here's one example of the irrational, illogical assertions that one can't really debate:  "the use of example doesn't prove that something is neither necessary nor sufficient."  If you assert that it is a necessary condition that a scientist be an atheist to be a good scientist, and you produce one example of a good scientist who is not an atheist you have shown the not necessary condition.   If you produce one example of an atheist who is not a good scientist, then you have shown that it is not a sufficient condition.     Now, I should add that discussions with some of the atheists/agnostics commenting on these sites was enjoyable and fruitful; the debate was civilized, no assertions were made as fact or truth that were not supported by logic or evidence.

Nevertheless, my response to those who didn't follow the path of rational discourse was much like that of Charlie Brown's to Lucy's non-sequiturs--my stomach began to ache and stress bollixed all the vital signs.   Reading Dr. Andrew Newburg's book, How God Changes Your Brain, I find that stress and anger also damage the neural circuitry in the brain.   Since I am already on the entrance ramp to the senile dementia thruway, I can't afford to lose any more neurons, and therefore will avoid the occasion of sin.  In the future I will not look at comments to my blogs (and therefore won't respond to any).     Since the evangelical atheists making snarky comments will not, for the most part, engage in rational discourse, and since most readers can see through their assertions, not much will be lost to evangelization by this neglect.  

One final point.   What I find most distressing about the evangelical atheists is their unwillingness to engage in any study that conflicts with their preconceptions.   This closing of the "Scientific Mind" (so-called) has been thoughtfully explored in a fine article by William Briggs .   There are atheists/agnostic (Thomas Nagle, Christopher Hitchens) whom I enjoy reading, even though I disagree with some or most of their views.   I wonder how many works by Keith Ward, Peter Kreeft, or Edward Feser have been read by the evangelical atheists trolling religious sites?


Matt Moore said...

duhem said...

Matt, I would have preferred to reply to your comment by private email in order not to seem to insult you in a public forum, but that doesn't seem to be possible, so I'll reply here to your assertions point by point. I'm not going to rebut everything you've said--that would take a chapter, but just provide a few examples.
". I have presented arguments that are substantiated by logic, reason and evidence " That's not so
Let's take your assertion that providing counter examples does not satisfy necessary or sufficient conditions. According to the mathematical definition of a necessary condition, if A is a necessary condition for B, then all instances of B will satisfy A. Accordingly, if A= atheism and B= being a good scientist, then all good scientists will be atheists. That's not so. The definition of a sufficient condition is that if A is a sufficient condition for B, then all instances of A will satisfy B. Or, in your terms, if atheism is a sufficient condition for being a good scientist, every atheist will be a good scientist. That's no so--witness Dawkins, whose ability as a scientist is decried by fellow atheists.
You have claimed "that science culls theism" (whatever that may mean) and other statements that say belief in God and science are incompatible, but have provided no evidence for these bald assertions. And as for an appeal to authority, I'd prefer to take the views of Nobel Prize winners, Eigen, Schawlow, Townes, Penzias, to yours or Dawkins.
You claim to be open-minded. I'll believe that when there's some evidence that you've read books that oppose your atheistic faith (and it is a faith, not a rationally ordered belief system):
Fr. Stanley Jaki, "The Limits of a Limitless Science"
Keith Ward, "Why there Almost Certainly Is a God--Doubting Dawkins"
Edward Feser,, "The Last Superstition--A Refutation of the New Atheism"
Peter Kreeft, "Jacob's Ladder: Ten Steps to Truth:
There is not much point in further discussion until you do give evidence of putting some effort in trying to understand opposing views. And I do believe that it is not by intellectual effort alone that faith comes, but by grace. So I will pray for you that you may receive that grace, or at least a more open-minded attitude to the possibility of belief.
By the way, your point about forsaking the internet if foolish comments bother me is well taken (and I should again remark that in CAF and Facebook I have enjoyed debating with those who supported their views by logic and evidence). Mental and physical health considerations are important, I am considering the possibility of not blogging again, or at least finding sites which you don't visit. With the exception of your comments I have found it satisfying, and what I have had to say seems to be received well. But moral and physical health are prime considerations. I should add that when I taught thermo and quantum mechanics, I was gentle with those who had problems, as long as they made an effort, but when they were lazy, I was merciless.

duhem said...

One more point Matt. I will not publish your last comment, which insults me personally and again, to put it politely, contains many statements that are contrary to fact. There's no point or profit for you or me to continue a " 'tis/'tisn't" argument. I won't respond to unsupported assertions (e.g. "neuroscience rubbishes Chalmers") or implied denigrations of those who believe in God (e.g. your remark about Newberg investing religion among other disorders). This morning I went to the Adoration Chapel and prayed for you and other militant, evangelical atheists that grace might be given to you, if not for a belief in God, at least a more open attitude to looking into material that challenged your faith (and, by the way, I have read one of Dawkins' books, have read two of Christopher Hitchens). Good luck to you in your search for Truth.